For those of you with the conception that poetry is lame, obtuse, or far too abstract for your taste, you have clearly not had the pleasure of seeing Derrick Brown perform. While at times he did break out the emotions, his quirky, poignant and often laugh-out-loud hilarious poetry was both accessible and intelligent. Through a strange concurrence of circumstances, Derrick Brown was invited to write a 40-minute long poem for Noord Nederlandse Dans, which brought him to the far north of the Netherlands for long enough that Usva could throw this event. It was a fantastic roller-coaster of a night, full of emotional peaks and valleys. If you didn’t manage to make it out to the show, I strongly recommend looking up his work on his website, or buying a copy of his book.
Of course, Derrick Brown was not the only shining performance of the night. Opening for Brown’s spectacular beat poetry reading was Usva’s favourite comedy troupe, Stranger Things Have Happened. I won’t go into too many details, but let’s just say there was a sketch involving an awkward moment in a soap shop, and a Broadway love ballad sung for an unwitting audience member with some musical talent of her own. Always a barrel of laughs, that bunch.
Three amateur beat poets got our beat poetry appetites going. Joost Oomen began with both Dutch poems English ones, followed by a lovely bunch of poems in Gronings recited by the lovely Fieke. Closing was Sacha with some really great work. Out of the three, Fieke won the prize: a free copy of Derrick’s book. As a special surprise, Joost Oomen and Derrick Brown had translated some of his poetry, seeing how well the wordplay-rich poem could cross the barriers of language. Considering the laughs that erupted from the audience, nothing was lost, but everything was ever-so-subtly different.
For all those international students out there, keep your eye out! Usva has lots of events and activities for those of us to whom Dutch just doesn’t come easy.
Ashley de Jong-Doucette